We Are About To See A Great, Big Debt-Fueled GDP Number For The 2nd Quarter, But There Is A Catch…

What kind of number for GDP growth in the 2nd quarter will we get on Friday? The market consensus is somewhere around 4 percent, but there are many out there that are expecting a number above 5 percent. The last time we witnessed such a number was during the third quarter of 2014 when the U.S. economy grew by 5.2 percent. If Friday’s GDP figure is better than that, it will be the best report that we have had since 2003. But let’s keep things in perspective. In seven of the last 10 years, GDP growth was much lower than anticipated in the first quarter and much higher than anticipated in the second quarter. It looks like that pattern may play out again in 2018, and analysts are already warning us to expect a much lower number for the third quarter.

And even though we have seen good quarters before, we still have not had a full year of 3 percent growth since the middle of the Bush administration.

Last year the U.S. economy grew by only 2.3 percent, which would be a horrible figure even if the government was using honest numbers. According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, GDP growth for 2017 would have actually been negative if honest numbers were being used.

So let’s not get too excited over one quarter. According to the official government numbers, the U.S. economy has not grown by at least 3 percent on an annual basis in 14 years. That is the longest stretch in all of U.S. history by a wide margin, and it is going to take a really good second half to break that string this year.

But that isn’t stopping people from hyping tomorrow’s number. According to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, we should see a number “in the 4 to 5 percent zone”

“You’re going to get a GDP number on Friday that’s going to be a very impressive number. Some people are in the 4 to 5 percent zone,” Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, told CBS This Morning.

And he is probably right.

In fact, we might see a number that is even better than that.

As CBS News has noted, the second quarter came after the new tax cuts were implemented but before the trade war started…

The second-quarter figure will be widely seen as a referendum on the GOP tax cuts of late 2017. This quarter benefits from a timing sweet spot, coming after the deficit-busting cuts trickled through the economy, but before the effects of the White House’s protectionist trade policies are fully felt.

If we get a really good number, it may actually be bad news for investors.

As Marketwatch has deftly observed, a high GDP growth number may affirm the Federal Reserve’s narrative that they need to keep raising rates in order to keep the economy from “overheating”…

Ultimately, a reading that comes in too hot could fuel expectations that the Federal Reserve may need to ramp up its pace of rate increases, with the possibility of a further two rate increases in September and December likely to tamp down too-hot growth. That could knock bond prices lower, conversely pushing rates up and pressuring equity markets lower as investors worry about rising borrowing costs.

Ultimately, most of the analysis that you are going to hear about this GDP number is a load of nonsense.

The only reason why the U.S. economy is showing a little bit of growth is because we are on the greatest debt binge in our history.

When Donald Trump entered the White House the U.S. government was 19.9 trillion dollars in debt, and now that figure has ballooned to 21.2 trillion dollars in debt.

If we had not added 1.3 trillion dollars to the national debt over the past year and a half, there is no way that the economy would be growing right now.

And to be honest, it wouldn’t be too difficult to ramp up GDP growth to 10 percent. All we would have to do would be to borrow and spend enough money.

So why don’t we do that?

Well, it is because we are already on a path to national suicide. It is being projected that our national debt will hit 30 trillion dollars by 2028, and neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem concerned about doing anything to alter this trajectory.

If we do get to 30 trillion dollars in debt and interest rates return to their long-term averages, we will be paying more than 1.5 trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt and our nation will be financially destroyed.

Many of our largest states are absolutely drowning in debt as well. The following comes from Fox Business

In Illinois, for instance, vendors wait months to be paid by a government that’s $30 billion in debt, and one whose bonds are just one notch above junk bond status, according to Daniels. New York’s more than $356 billion in debt; New Jersey more than $104 billion; and California more than $428 billion.

As I have explained so many times, we are living a debt-fueled standard of living that is way above what we deserve.

If we only spent what we had, the economy would immediately plunge into a depression and our standard of living would collapse. The only way to keep the party going is to borrow and spend increasingly larger amounts of money, but everyone knows that this is simply not sustainable.

And it isn’t just government debt that is the problem.

Since the last financial crisis, corporate debt has doubled.

A massive consumer debt binge has pushed credit card debt to an all-time record high, and at this point the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

When you add all forms of debt together, Americans are nearly 70 trillion dollars in the hole right now. For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled “Why America Is Heading Straight Toward The Worst Debt Crisis In History”.

So enjoy the debt-fueled GDP numbers for now, because the truth is that they aren’t going to last for long.

Our endless appetite for debt is literally destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have, and someday they will look back and curse us for what we have done to their country.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

12 Years In A Row And Counting: The U.S. Has Not Had A Year Of 3 Percent Economic Growth In More Than A Decade

If the U.S. economy is in good shape, then why has economic growth been so anemic for more than a decade?  It has been 12 long years since the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and for most of that time my website has been one of the leading voices chronicling America’s long-term economic problems.  In 2017, U.S. GDP increased by just 2.3 percent, but at least that was better than the pathetic 1.5 percent figure that was posted for 2016.  With Donald Trump in the White House, we have taken some steps in the right direction, but we must never forget that our long-term economic and financial problems continue to steadily get worse.

As I travel around Idaho’s first congressional district, I often tell voters that we have not had a year of 3 percent economic growth since the middle of the Bush administration, and a lot of people have a really hard time believing that this is accurate.  But of course it is 100 percent true, and earlier today CNS News published an article highlighting this fact…

The United States has gone a record 12 straight years without 3-percent growth in real Gross Domestic Product, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

This drought is highly, highly unusual.  In fact, before this 12 year stretch the previous record was just four years

Before the current period, when the nation has seen twelve straight years without 3 percent growth in real GDP, the longest stretch of years in which real GDP did not grow by at least 3 percent was during the Great Depression—when there were four straight years (1930-1933) when real GDP did not grow that much.

Have we entered a new era of low economic growth?

Is 3 percent the best that we can hope for from now on?

I have pointed out many times that Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history never to have a single year of 3 percent economic growth, and he had two terms to try to achieve that.

Of course the U.S. economy began struggling far before Obama entered the White House.  As the U.S. has increasingly embraced socialism, our once vibrant economy has really had a tough time.  In fact, since the end of the Reagan administration our economic growth numbers have not been good at all

The last time it grew by more than 7 percent was 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president. That year, it grew by 7.3 percent.

In the years after 1984, the highest level of economic growth achieved by the United States was in 1999, when real GDP grew by 4.7 percent.

Hopefully things can turn around under President Trump, and that it is why it is so imperative that we send pro-Trump candidates for Congress to Washington.

The U.S. economy is way overdue for a recession, and many believe that the next major economic downturn is right around the corner.  We just witnessed the worst February for stocks in 9 years, and the Dow ended the month on a huge down note.  Hopefully things will rebound in March, but there is absolutely no guarantee that will happen.

The following are some more facts about what transpired in February from Zero Hedge

  • Trannies worst month since Jan 2016
  • Small Caps worst month since Oct 2016
  • VIX biggest monthly jump since Aug 2015
  • 30Y TSY Yield biggest monthly jump since Nov 2016
  • 2Y TSY Yield up 6 straight months
  • HY Credit (HYG) worst month since Jan 2016
  • HY Spreads worst month since Sept 2015
  • USD Index up most since Feb 2017
  • WTI worst month since Aug 2017
  • Gold worst month since Sept 2017
  • Silver worst month since Nov 2016

I know that I didn’t write very much this month, and that is because I have been relentlessly working to win my race for Congress.

We are less than 80 days away from May 15th, and it is an exceedingly close race between me and three other major candidates.

If you live in Idaho’s first congressional district, please mark May 15th on your calendar.  Our numbers are surging and we feel very good about the race, but without a doubt we are going to need every single vote that we can get.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District.  If you would like to help him win on May 15th, you can donate online, by Paypal or by sending a check made out to “Michael Snyder for Congress” to P.O. Box 1136 – Bonners Ferry, ID 83805.  To learn more, please visit MichaelSnyderForCongress.com.

Washington D.C. Is Essentially Just A Gigantic Money Machine

If you have ever wondered why our leaders in Washington D.C. seem to act so strangely, the truth is that it almost always comes down to just one thing.  It has been said that “money makes the world go round”, and that is definitely true in Washington.  This year the federal government will spend more than 4 trillion dollars, and that represents well over one-fifth of our national GDP.  With so much money coming in and so much money going out, the stakes are incredibly high, and that is why so much money is poured into political campaigns on the national level.

And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that those that live the closest to this gigantic money machine have benefited greatly.  Forbes just released their brand new rankings for 2017, and they found that five out of the top 10 wealthiest counties in the entire country are suburbs of Washington D.C.

Virginia’s Loudoun County holds the title of the nation’s richest county with a median household income of $125,900. While nearly 10,000 residents commute to the District, according to Forbes, about 11,700 businesses employ 161,000 county residents, with Dulles International Airport, Loudoun County Public Schools and the Department of Homeland Security leading that charge.

The nearby city of Falls Church, Fairfax and Arlington counties in Virginia and Howard County in Maryland also lead the nation based on wealth.

In general, salaries for federal workers are significantly higher than in the private sector, and benefit packages are usually much better.

But in addition to having a very high concentration of federal workers, the D.C. area is also home to hordes of lawyers, lobbyists, defense contractors and other government vendors.  Big government means big business for those guys, and business has been very good in recent years…

The federal government has a lot to do with this: The Capitol and the economy orbiting around it (including lawyers, defense contractors, computer engineers along the Dulles Corridor, and doctors near NIH) attract college graduates who reliably contribute to six-figure households. Crucially, there was a $1.7 billion increase in lobbying between 1998 and 2010, as Dylan Matthews explained. With each $1 million of lobbying “associated with a $3.70 increase in the D.C. wage premium,” the money pouring into Washington wound up in the pockets of its residents.

This certainly isn’t the limited government that our founders intended.

So where did we go wrong?

One of the big turning points came in 1913.  That is the year when the Federal Reserve and the modern version of the income tax were established.  The Federal Reserve was designed by the elite to get the federal government very deeply into debt, and an income tax was needed to help service that debt and to help pay for the much larger government that the progressives were wanting.

Back then, D.C. was nothing like it is today.  In fact, even in the 1970s there were still large farms inside the Beltway.  But the federal government just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and now it is a four trillion dollar monstrosity.

What I believe we should do is to dismantle as much of that monstrosity as we possibly can.  Instead of asking which government agencies we should close, I believe that we should be asking which government agencies we really need to leave open.

A great place to start would be by abolishing the Federal Reserve, the IRS and the income tax.  Those institutions are at the very core of the Washington money machine, and so it would essentially be like tearing the heart out of big government.

And don’t worry, the federal government would still have plenty of money coming in.  The individual income tax only accounts for about 46 percent of all federal revenue, and theoretically we could still have an absolutely enormous federal government without an income tax.  I once wrote an article that listed 97 different ways that various levels of government get money out of us each year, and so getting rid of the federal income tax would still leave 96 ways for the politicians to extract money from us.

As I remind my readers so frequently, the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when there was no income tax and no central bank.  But I know that a lot of people out there love the 1.33 percent average yearly GDP growth rate that we have been experiencing over the past decade and would have a really hard time giving that up.

Unfortunately, it would actually be a very tough transition to a much more limited federal government because so much of our society is geared around the enormous money machine in Washington.  In 2018, more than a billion dollars will be spent on the mid-term elections, and most of that money will be going to incumbents that are committed to maintaining the status quo.

If we ever want things to really start changing in Washington, we have got to start sending people there that haven’t been bought off by the big money interests.

In my congressional district there is no incumbent running in 2018, and nobody else in the race is nearly as conservative as I am.  But since I can’t be bought by the special interests, I am going to have to rely on grassroots support.

Donald Trump showed us that anything is possible in American politics.  When Jeb Bush decided to run for president, he had an extremely long list of endorsements and a hundred million dollars behind him, and he still got trounced by Trump because Trump had a much stronger message.

If we stand united, we can take our government back and there won’t be anything that the establishment will be able to do about it.

But if we sit back and do nothing, the cesspool of corruption in Washington D.C. will just continue to get deeper and deeper.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Over The Last 10 Years The U.S. Economy Has Grown At EXACTLY The Same Rate As It Did During The 1930s

Even though I write about our ongoing long-term economic collapse every day, I didn’t realize that things were this bad.  In this article, I am going to show you that the average rate of growth for the U.S. economy over the past 10 years is exactly equal to the average rate that the U.S. economy grew during the 1930s.  Perhaps this fact shouldn’t be that surprising, because we already knew that Barack Obama was the only president in the entire history of the United States not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent.  Of course the mainstream media continues to push the perception that the U.S. economy is in “recovery mode”, but the truth is that this current era has far more in common with the Great Depression than it does with times of great economic prosperity.

Earlier today I came across an article about President Trump’s new budget from Fox News, and in this article the author makes a startling claim…

The hard fact is that the past decade’s $10 trillion in deficit spending has produced the worst economic growth as measured by Gross Domestic Product in our nation’s history.  You read that right, in the past decade our nation’s economy grew slower than even during the Great Depression. This stagnant, new normal, low-growth economy is leaving millions of working age people behind who have given up even trying to participate, and has led to a malaise where many doubt that the American dream is attainable.

When I first read that, I thought that this claim could not possibly be true.  But I was curious, and so I looked up the numbers for myself.

What I found was absolutely astounding.

The following are U.S. GDP growth rates for every year during the 1930s

1930: -8.5%
1931: -6.4%
1932: -12.9%
1933: -1.3%
1934: 10.8%
1935: 8.9%
1936: 12.9%
1937: 5.1%
1938: -3.3%
1939: 8.0%

When you average all of those years together, you get an average rate of economic growth of 1.33 percent.

That is really bad, but it is the kind of number that one would expect from “the Great Depression”.

So then I looked up the numbers for the last ten years

2007: 1.8%
2008: -0.3%
2009: -2.8%
2010: 2.5%
2011: 1.6%
2012: 2.2%
2013: 1.7%
2014: 2.4%
2015: 2.6%
2016: 1.6%

When you average these years together, you get an average rate of economic growth of 1.33 percent.

I thought that was a really strange coincidence, and so I pulled up my calculator and ran all of the numbers again and I got the exact same results.

The 1930s certainly had more big ups and downs, but the average rate of economic growth during that decade was exactly the same as we have seen over the past 10 years.

And of course the early 1940s turned out to be a boom time for the U.S. economy, while it appears that our rate of economic growth is actually slowing down.  As I noted yesterday, U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was just 0.7 percent.

But you don’t hear any talk like this on the mainstream news, do you?

Instead, they tell us that everything is just peachy.

I often wonder what things would be like right now if Barack Obama and his minions in Congress had not added more than 9 trillion dollars to the national debt.  By stealing all of that money from future generations of Americans and spending it now, Obama was able to artificially prop up the U.S. economy.  If we were able to go back and remove 9 trillion dollars of government spending from the economy over the past 8 years, we would be in a rip-roaring economic depression right now.  For an extended analysis of this, please see my previous article entitled “The Shocking Truth About How Barack Obama Was Able To Prop Up The U.S. Economy”

But even though we have been adding more than a trillion dollars to the national debt each year, and even though the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama era, the U.S. economy has not grown by three percent or more on an annual basis since 2005.

When you take an honest look at the numbers, there is no way that anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is doing well.  The best that you can say is that we have been staving off a complete economic meltdown and another Great Depression, but of course the measures that our leaders have been taking to do this have just been making our long-term problems even worse.

I feel bad for President Trump, because he has inherited the biggest economic mess in U.S. history.  When we finally reach the point when it is impossible to artificially prop up the U.S. economy any longer, he is going to get most of the blame, but he won’t deserve it.

It is not going to be possible for Trump or anyone else to fix our system, because it was fundamentally flawed from the very beginning.  The Federal Reserve was designed to create an endless spiral of government debt, and since the day it was created the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger and the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by about 98 percent.

If we truly want to fix the economy, the Federal Reserve must be abolished.  If I was President Trump, I would look to start issuing debt-free U.S. currency just like President Kennedy did in 1963 as soon as possible.

In addition, we need to push tax rates as low as possible.  Personally, I would like to see the day when the personal income tax is completely eliminated and the IRS is shut down.  The greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history was when there was no income tax and no Federal Reserve.  America once thrived in such an environment, and I believe that we can do it again.

Of course we need to also dramatically reduce the size and scope of the federal government.  Our founders intended to create a very limited federal government, but instead the left has just kept pushing to make it larger and larger.

Businesses all over America are being strangled to death by mountains of federal regulations, and if we could just get the government off of their backs the business community could start thriving again.  There are quite a few government agencies that could be shut down entirely, and I think that the EPA would be a good place to start.

Once upon a time the United States showed the world the power of free markets and capitalism, and if we want to make America great again, we should go back and do the things that made America great in the first place.

But would the American people be willing to go down that path?

The 75 Trillion Dollar Shadow Banking System Is In Danger Of Collapsing

Shadow Banking System - Public DomainKeep an eye on the shadow banking system – it is about to be shaken to the core.  According to the Financial Stability Board, the size of the global shadow banking system has reached an astounding 75 trillion dollars.  It has approximately tripled in size since 2002.  In the U.S. alone, the size of the shadow banking system is approximately 24 trillion dollars.  At this point, shadow banking assets in the United States are even greater than those of conventional banks.  These shadow banks are largely unregulated, but governments around the world have been extremely hesitant to crack down on them because these nonbank lenders have helped fuel economic growth.  But in the end, we will all likely pay a very great price for allowing these exceedingly reckless financial institutions to run wild.

If you are not familiar with the “shadow banking system”, the following is a pretty good definition from investing answers.com

The shadow banking system (or shadow financial system) is a network of financial institutions comprised of non-depository banks — e.g., investment banks, structured investment vehicles (SIVs), conduits, hedge funds, non-bank financial institutions and money market funds.

How it works/Example:

Shadow banking institutions generally serve as intermediaries between investors and borrowers, providing credit and capital for investors, institutional investors, and corporations, and profiting from fees and/or from the arbitrage in interest rates.

Because shadow banking institutions don’t receive traditional deposits like a depository bank, they have escaped most regulatory limits and laws imposed on the traditional banking system. Members are able to operate without being subject to regulatory oversight for unregulated activities. An example of an unregulated activity is a credit default swap (CDS).

These institutions are extremely dangerous because they are highly leveraged and they are behaving very recklessly.  They played a major role during the financial crisis of 2008, and even the New York Fed admits that shadow banking has “increased the fragility of the entire financial system”…

The current financial crisis has highlighted the growing importance of the “shadow banking system,” which grew out of the securitization of assets and the integration of banking with capital market developments. This trend has been most pronounced in the United States, but it has had a profound influence on the global financial system. In a market-based financial system, banking and capital market developments are inseparable: Funding conditions are closely tied to fluctuations in the leverage of market-based financial intermediaries. Growth in the balance sheets of these intermediaries provides a sense of the availability of credit, while contractions of their balance sheets have tended to precede the onset of financial crises. Securitization was intended as a way to transfer credit risk to those better able to absorb losses, but instead it increased the fragility of the entire financial system by allowing banks and other intermediaries to “leverage up” by buying one another’s securities.

Over the past decade, shadow banking has become a truly worldwide phenomenon, and thus it is a major threat to the entire global financial system.  In China, shadow banking has been growing by leaps and bounds, but this has the authorities deeply concerned.  In fact, according to Bloomberg one top Chinese regulator has referred to shadow banking as a “Ponzi scheme”…

Their growth had caused the man who is now China’s top securities regulator to label the off-balance-sheet products a “Ponzi scheme,” because banks have to sell more each month to pay off those that are maturing.

And what happens to all Ponzi schemes eventually?

In the end, they always collapse.

And when this 75 trillion dollar Ponzi scheme collapses, the global devastation that it will cause will be absolutely unprecedented.

Bond expert Bill Gross, who is intimately familiar with the shadow banking system, has just come out with a major warning about the lack of liquidity in the shadow banking system…

Mutual funds, hedge funds, and ETFs, are part of the “shadow banking system” where these modern “banks” are not required to maintain reserves or even emergency levels of cash. Since they in effect now are the market, a rush for liquidity on the part of the investing public, whether they be individuals in 401Ks or institutional pension funds and insurance companies, would find the “market” selling to itself with the Federal Reserve severely limited in its ability to provide assistance.

As far as shadow banking is concerned, everything is just fine as long as markets just keep going up and up and up.

But once they start falling, the whole system can start falling apart very rapidly.  Here is more from Bill Gross on what might cause a “run on the shadow banks” in the near future…

Long used to the inevitability of capital gains, investors and markets have not been tested during a stretch of time when prices go down and policymakers’ hands are tied to perform their historical function of buyer of last resort. It’s then that liquidity will be tested.

And what might precipitate such a “run on the shadow banks”?

1) A central bank mistake leading to lower bond prices and a stronger dollar.

2) Greece, and if so, the inevitable aftermath of default/restructuring leading to additional concerns for Eurozone peripherals.

3) China – “a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. It is the “mystery meat” of economic sandwiches – you never know what’s in there. Credit has expanded more rapidly in recent years than any major economy in history, a sure warning sign.

4) Emerging market crisis – dollar denominated debt/overinvestment/commodity orientation – take your pick of potential culprits.

5) Geopolitical risks – too numerous to mention and too sensitive to print.

6) A butterfly’s wing – chaos theory suggests that a small change in “non-linear systems” could result in large changes elsewhere. Call this kooky, but in a levered financial system, small changes can upset the status quo. Keep that butterfly net handy.

Should that moment occur, a cold rather than a hot shower may be an investor’s reward and the view will be something less than “gorgeous”. So what to do? Hold an appropriate amount of cash so that panic selling for you is off the table.

In order to avoid a shadow banking crisis, what we need is for global financial markets to stabilize and to resume their upward trends.

If stocks and bonds start crashing, which is precisely what I have projected will happen during the last half of 2015, the shadow banking system is going to come under an extreme amount of stress.  If the coming global financial crisis is even half as bad as I believe it is going to be, there is no way that the shadow banking system is going to hold up.

So let’s hope that the financial devastation that we have seen so far this week is not a preview of things to come.  The global financial system has been transformed into a delicately balanced pyramid of glass that is not designed to handle turbulent times.  We should have never allowed the shadow banks to run wild like this, but we did, and now in just a short while we are going to get to witness a financial implosion unlike anything the world has ever seen before.

We Might As Well Face It – America Is Addicted To Debt

Debt Tree - Public DomainCorporations, individuals and the federal government continue to rack up debt at a rate that is far faster than the overall rate of economic growth.  We are literally drowning in red ink from sea to shining sea, and yet we just can’t help ourselves.  Consumer credit has doubled since the year 2000.  Student loan debt has doubled over the course of the past decade.  Business debt has doubled since 2006.  And of course the debt of the federal government has doubled since 2007.  Anyone that believes that this is “sustainable” in any way, shape or form is crazy.  We have accumulated the greatest mountain of debt that the world has ever seen, and yet despite all of the warnings we just continue to race forward into financial oblivion.  There is no possible way that this is going to end well.

Just the other day, a financial story that USA Today posted really got my attention.  It contained charts and graphs that showed that business debt in the U.S. had doubled since 2006.  I knew that things were bad, but I didn’t know that they were this bad.  Back in 2006, just prior to the last major economic downturn, U.S. nonfinancial companies had a total of about 2.6 trillion dollars of debt.  Now, that total has skyrocketed to 5.8 trillion

Companies are sitting on a record $1.82 trillion in cash. That might sound impressive until you hear companies owe three times more – $5.8 trillion, according to a new report from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

Debt levels are soaring at U.S. non-financial companies so quickly – total debt outstanding rose $650 billion in 2014, which is six times faster than the $100 billion in added cash.

So are we in better condition to handle an economic crisis than we were the last time, or are we in worse shape?

Let’s look at another category of debt.  According to new data that just came out, the total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. is up to a staggering 1.2 trillion dollars.  That total has more than doubled over the past decade…

New data released by The Associated Press shows student loan debt is over $1.2 trillion, which is more than double the amount of a decade ago.

Students are facing an average of $35,000 in debt, that’s the highest of any graduating class in U.S. history. A senior at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Jon Cheek, knows the struggle first hand.

“It’s been a pretty big concern, I work while I go to school. I applied for a bunch of scholarships and done everything I can to try and keep it low,” said Cheek.

And of course it isn’t just student loan debt.  American consumers have had a love affair with debt that stretches back for decades.  As the chart below demonstrates, overall consumer credit has more than doubled since the year 2000…

consumer credit outstanding

If our paychecks were increasing at this same pace, that would be one thing.  But they aren’t.  In fact, real median household income is actually lower today than it was just prior to the last economic crisis.

So American households should actually be cutting back on debt.  But instead, they are just piling on more debt, and the financial predators are becoming even more creative.  In a previous article,  I discussed how many auto loans are now being stretched out for seven years.  At this point, the number of auto loans that exceed 72 months is at an all-time high

The average new car loan has reached a record 67 months, reports Experian, the Ireland-based information-services company. The percentage of loans with terms of 73 to 84 months also reached a new high of 29.5% in the first quarter of 2015, up from 24.9% a year earlier.

Long-term used-vehicle loans also broke records with loan terms of 73 to 84 months reaching 16% in the first quarter 2015, up from 12.94% — also the highest on record.

When will we learn?

The crash of 2008 should have been a wake up call.

We should have acknowledged our mistakes and we should have started doing things very differently.

But instead, we just kept on making the exact same mistakes.  In fact, our long-term financial problems have continued to accelerate since the last recession.  Just look at what has happened to our national debt.  Just prior to the last recession, the U.S. national debt was sitting at approximately 9 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 18 trillion dollars…

National Debt

Our debt has grown so large that we will never be able to get out from under it.  This is something that I covered in my recent article entitled “It Is Mathematically Impossible To Pay Off All Of Our Debt“.  Because of our recklessness, our children, our grandchildren and all future generations of Americans are consigned to a lifetime of debt slavery.  What we have done to them is beyond criminal.  If we lived in a just society, a whole bunch of people would be going to prison for the rest of their lives over this.

During fiscal year 2014, the debt of the federal government increased by more than a trillion dollars.  But in addition to that, the federal government has more than seven trillion dollars of debt that must be “rolled over” every year.  In other words, the government must issue more than seven trillion dollars of new debt just to pay off old debts that are coming due.

As long as the rest of the world continues to lend us enormous mountains of money at ridiculously low interest rates, we can continue to keep our heads above the water.  But this can change at any time.  And once it does, interest rates will rise.  If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was to return to the long-term average, we would very quickly find ourselves spending more than a trillion dollars a year just on interest on the national debt.

The debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying now is not real.  It is a false prosperity that has been purchased by selling future generations into debt slavery.  We have mortgaged the future to make our own lives better.

We are addicts.  We are addicted to debt, and no matter how many warnings we receive, we just can’t help ourselves.

Shame on you America.

16 Signs That The Economy Has Stalled Out And The Next Economic Downturn Is Here

Get Prepared NowIf U.S. economic growth falls any lower, we are officially going to be in recession territory.  On Wednesday, we learned that U.S. GDP grew at a 0.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2015.  That was much lower than all of the “experts” were projecting.  And of course there are all sorts of questions whether the GDP numbers the government feeds us are legitimate anyway.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if honest numbers were used they would show that U.S. GDP growth has been continuously negative since 2005.  But even if we consider the number that the government has given us to be the “real” number, it still shows that the U.S. economy has stalled out.  It is almost as if we have hit a “turning point”, and there are many out there (including myself) that believe that the next major economic downturn is dead ahead.  As you will see in this article, a whole bunch of things are happening right now that we would expect to see if a recession was beginning.  The following are 16 signs that the economy has stalled out and the next economic downturn is here…

#1 We just learned that U.S. GDP grew at an anemic 0.2 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2015…

The gross domestic product grew between January and March at an annualized rate of 0.2 percent, the U.S. Commerce Department said, adding to the picture of an economy braking sharply after accelerating for much of last year. The pace fell well shy of the 1 percent mark anticipated by analysts and marked the weakest quarter in a year.

#2 If you strip a very unusual inventory buildup out of the GDP number, U.S. GDP would have actually fallen at a -2.5 percent annual rate during the first quarter…

The only good news: the massive inventory build, the largest since 2010, boosted GDP by nearly 3.0%. Without this epic stockpiling of non-farm inventory which will have to be liquidated at some point (and at a very low price) Q1 GDP would have been -2.5%.

#3 Our trade deficit with the rest of the planet is absolutely killing our economic growth.  According to the Reality Chek Blog, U.S. economic growth would have been a total of 8 percent higher since the end of the last recession if we actually had balanced trade with other nations…

As of the new first quarter figures, the worsening of the trade deficit has reduced the cumulative real growth of the U.S. economy by 7.99 percent since the current recovery began in the second quarter of 2009.

#4 According to numbers that were just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in one out of every five American families nobody has a job.  So how in the world can the “unemployment rate” be sitting at “5.5 percent” when everyone is unemployed in 20 percent of all families in the United States?  It doesn’t make any sense.

#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has just hit a brand new 25 year low.  How can anyone claim that the middle class is “healthy” when the percentage of Americans that own a home is the lowest that it has been in more than two decades?

#6 Back in 2013, 31 percent of all Americans said that they did not anticipate buying a home “for the foreseeable future”.  Just two years later, that number has risen to 41 percent.

#7 The student loan bubble is clearly bursting.  According to Bloomberg, only 37 percent of all student loan borrowers are actually up to date on their payments and reducing their balances…

With borrowers increasingly struggling to repay their student loans, Moody’s Investors Service is warning it may take investors longer than promised to get their money back. The credit grader said this month it may lower rankings on $3 billion of top-rated debt as investors face the threat of slowing principal payments or even receiving no interest.

The concern underscores the fallout from a record $1.2 trillion in U.S. student loans that’s spreading to everything from the housing market and consumer spending to taxpayers. As a sluggish economic recovery forces borrowers to miss payments or tap relief programs, only 37 percent are current and reducing their balances, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York presentation this month.

#8 Procter & Gamble has announced that it will be cutting up to 6,000 more jobs from their payroll.  Why would they be doing this if the economy is “getting better”?

#9 McDonald’s plans to permanently shut down 700 “poorly performing” restaurants over the course of 2015.  Why would they be doing this if the economy is “getting better”?

#10 It is being projected that half of all fracking companies in the United States will be either “dead or sold” by the end of 2015.

#11 Retail sales in the U.S. have not dropped this rapidly since the last recession.

#12 Wholesale sales in the U.S. have not dropped this rapidly since the last recession.

#13 Factory orders in the U.S. have not dropped this rapidly since the last recession.

#14 Credit requests are being declined at a rate that we haven’t seen since the last recession.

#15 U.S. export growth has gone negative for the first time since the last recession.

#16 As the U.S. economy begins to head into another downturn, most Americans are completely unprepared for it.  In fact, one recent survey discovered that 62 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

Don’t let this next recession take you by surprise.

Back in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs or businesses because of the sharp economic downturn.  Because most of them were living paycheck to paycheck, all of a sudden a whole lot of Americans could not make their mortgage payments and foreclosures surged to unprecedented heights.  Millions of families that thought they were operating on a solid foundation saw their middle class lifestyles evaporate in just a matter of a few months.

That is why it is so vital to prepare yourself financially, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually for the great storm that is coming ahead of time.  Over the past couple of years, I have been working on a new book entitled “Get Prepared Now” which talks about how to make these preparations.  On Wednesday, it was finally released to the public.  I hope that you will check it out.

The past few years have been a period of relative stability for the U.S. economy.  A lot of people have been lulled into a false sense of security during that time.  These people have become convinced that our problems have been fixed.  But they haven’t been fixed at all.  In fact, our problems are far, far worse than they were just prior to the last financial crisis.

When the next great financial crisis strikes, we are going to see a spike in the suicide rate just like we did during the last one.  Millions will be blindsided by what is coming and will give in to depression and despair.  But that doesn’t have to happen to you.  It is empowering to know what is coming and to understand why it is coming.  It is empowering to get prepared in advance for turbulent times.  It is empowering to have a plan for the years ahead.

Even though I write about all of the horrible things that are coming to this country every day, I live my life with no fear, and that is what I want for all of you as well.

Do you want to know who will be giving in to fear and panic when things start to go really crazy?

It will be the people that had no idea what was coming and made no preparations whatsoever.

Yes, the times ahead are going to be extremely challenging, but they can also be the best times of your life.

It is all going to come down to how you respond to a world that is going completely insane.

The choice is up to you.